These two chicken dishes are perfect for an early-summer meal. I like to try to use hormone-free chickens raised in my locale at Quill’s End Farm in North Blue Hill.

LEMON CHICKEN WITH THYME

Good accompaniments to this piquant herbed chicken would be couscous pilaf and roasted asparagus.

Servings: 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 5 ounces each

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoons or 1 teaspoon dried, plus 1/4 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons

8 thin slices lemon

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon sugar

Thyme sprigs for garnish, if available

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a large mallet or the bottom of a small heavy saucepan to pound them to an even thickness, about 1/2-inch thick. On a plate, stir together the flour, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried, salt, and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess.

In a large skillet, heat oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Saute chicken breasts over medium to medium-high heat, turning once, until golden brown outside and white but still juicy within, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove to platter. Add lemon slices and cook until lightly browned. Remove to platter.

Add broth and remaining thyme to skillet, raise heat to high, and boil briskly, stirring up any browned bits in bottom of pan, until sauce is somewhat reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, and sugar and simmer for 1 minute. Cut remaining 2 teaspoons of butter into small pieces and whisk into sauce until it melts.

Pour sauce over chicken and lemons and garnish with thyme sprigs, if available.

CHICKEN WITH SWEET PEPPERS AND OLIVES

A rainbow of colorful peppers and shiny black olives create a dish with Tuscan overtones. To complete the meal, add an arugula salad and either thin-strand pasta sprinkled with Parmesan and swirled into “nests” or crusty Tuscan bread.

Servings: 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups thinly sliced mixed red, yellow, orange and/or green bell peppers

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup imported black olives

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add chicken and saute over medium-high heat, turning once, until golden on both sides and almost cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to pan, reduce heat to medium, and saute peppers and onion, stirring often, until softened and tinged with brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Scrape vegetable mixture onto chicken. Add broth, olives, and about half the basil to skillet, raise heat to high, and cook briskly, scraping up browned bits in bottom of pan, until lightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar and boil 1 minute. Return chicken and peppers and any accumulated juices to pan and simmer for a couple of minutes to make sure chicken is cooked through. Stir in remaining basil and serve.

 

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “The New England Clam Shack Cookbook” (Storey 2008). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula.